International Rugby
Tonga coach accuses officials of racism
ESPN Staff
June 10, 2013
Tonga's players perform the Sipi Tau, Japan v Tonga, IRB Pacific Nations Cup 2013, Yokohama, May 25, 2013
Tonga perform the Sipi Tau ahead of their Pacific Nations Cup clash against Japan last month © IRB

Tonga coach Mana Otai has accused international officials of singling out his players because they are black.

His sensational claim came in the wake of his side's 36-27 defeat to Canada in their latest Pacific Nations Cup clash in Kingston on Saturday - a fiercely-contested game that saw Tonga prop Eddie Aholelei sent off for fighting and centre Sione Piukala and replacement David Halaifonua Tonga sin-binned for dangerous tackles.

Speaking to the Canadian Press, Otai alleged that his players had been unfairly treated due to the colour of their skin with his comments set to trigger action from the International Rugby Board.

"I had a look at both [yellow cards]. I couldn't really see why [they were issued]. It's almost like, these days you know, when a black man is tackling harder than the other, it seems to be the way."

Asked if he thought his side were being singled out, he said: "Absolutely. It's a perception a lot of times. And I think some of the foreigners that are involved in our team now are starting to see that. It's just hard to battle or fight that stereotype, I guess.

"But I'm not taking away the fact that at times we do, I guess, make mistakes in terms of tackling - if I'm talking in general. But in today's game, I couldn't justify the two yellow cards."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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